Each year during college admissions season, frantic high school seniors, their parents and harried counselors race to get completed applications and materials into college admission offices on time. It is a stressful time for all involved, even more so since the pandemic, with college applications rising at universities and colleges across the country.

Southwestern University took a bold step this year to simplify its admission-related deadlines with a “Super Tuesday” approach where all deadlines and release dates fall on the first Tuesday of the month, and supportive documents may follow. Not only is this easy for students to remember but it alleviates issues when deadlines would fall on weekend days.

Dean of Enrollment Services Christine Bowman explained “I have been in the admissions business for 28 years and have been watching the frustrations with regard to dates and deadlines when materials are due get progressively worse.” And according to Bowman, most all universities use the dates of either the first or fifteenth as deadlines. “It’s even worse when those days fall on weekends,” she says. “Students get very stressed about whether materials need to be postmarked by that day or in the office. And we always question whether we should have someone in the office that day to collect materials.”

She hit upon the idea of using the first Tuesday deadlines for everything as a way to ease stress for students and the high school counselors. “I really wanted to be a good counseling colleague,” she said, noting that the admissions season can be most difficult for the counselors who are often overworked and have too many students to support.

Southwestern has been a leader in the admissions process in more than just this one way: the university went test optional before the pandemic.

“Testing is a huge stress point for students and families,” said Bowman. “We are trying to be a leader by ascertaining what we really need in our application process to determine if a student will be successful, in a day and age when everything is so complex and stressful.”

Admissions counselors across the country are on board with Bowman’s philosophy and the first Tuesday deadline approach. On November 12, she posted the information to two different private Facebook groups—one for national college admissions counselors and one for Texas counselors. The response was overwhelming. Almost immediately, the posts received 244 likes and 26 comments including these: 

  • “You are my new favorite,”
  • “This is awesome!”
  • “Nice! Hopefully other CTCLs (and other cool schools) will join you!”
  • “I love you and Southwestern for this!”
  • “Thank you for leadership on this issue (among others)!”

Bowman hopes that Southwestern truly is a trendsetter and other schools will take note. “It’s time for us as a profession to discuss how can we make this process one that helps students find their right fit and be enjoyable. This is the first time for many of these students that they will be told no. How do you deal with that? If we can remove some of the barriers and most stressful points, we can serve everyone. We can help folks out, help them catch a breath.” 

New SU Deadlines

  • Early Decision (binding): 1st Tuesday in November
  • Early Action (non-binding): 1st Tuesday in December
  • Regular Decision: 1st Tuesday in February
  • Late Decision: After 1st Tuesday in February, on a space available basis